Gun Dealers Threaten Litigation in MA Over New Gun Control Regs

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Gun dealers in Massachusetts are threatening legal action against the state over new gun control regulations which were recently sanctioned by the state's Supreme Court after a two-year legal battle and the ruling has prompted the state Attorney General to start enforcing the measures immediately.

The court's decision, which allows regulation under consumer protection laws, led Attorney General Thomas Reilly to enact the measures this week with a program of spot checks around the state to ensure gun dealers are meeting the new standards.

As many as a dozen dealers are expected to join the likely litigation, which is expected to be filed shortly in Suffolk County Superior Court. The litigation would seek clarification of the regulations as well as damages for unsold gun inventory.

Among the requirements mandated by the regulations is the use of trigger locks on all weapons sold in the state; the banning of so-called "Saturday Night Specials" and the imposition of stringent safety and performance measures.

Many dealers fear the regulations will force them out of business since the only weapons that qualify for sale in the state are some of those manufactured by Smith & Wesson, based in Springfield, MA. Small dealers contend they are especially vulnerable since they could be left with large inventories that they would be unable to sell.

"This is not a product safety issue. This is a political issue," said Michael Yacino, executive director of the Gun Owner's Action League. "Once these guns go underground, there will be even more crime."

"This is a clear case of abuse of government authority," said Joseph Callanan of Roache's Sporting goods in Cambridge, MA.

Opponents of the measure point to the start, this week, of a program of spot checks, at dealerships around the state. Those dealers who don't pass the inspection could lose their licenses. In an effort to prepare for the random inspections, some dealers are removing all new models from the shelves. Dealers who are found with non-compliant weapons could also face a fine of as much as $5,000 per weapon.

Brian Heffron, a spokesman for the attorney general said, "it's unbelievable that the gun industry insists on fighting consumer safety regulations that will make guns safer for owners and ultimately save lives."

As for the threatened litigation, Heffron called it "another example of the gun industry putting profits ahead of safety."

In discussing the likely suit, one Second Amendment advocate insisted that the state has no right to regulate the manufacturing of handguns. "Only the federal government can regulate guns to the extent Tom Reilly wants to."

Republican Governor Paul Cellucci appeared to side with Reilly, a Democrat. The two-term governor told reporters on Tuesday that the gun industry possesses the technology to make "a safer weapon...and they haven't done it."